If you clicked the link for this blog, you are probably a commuter in college or a future college student who is trying to decide whether they would like to live on campus or commute everyday.
Let me tell that this blog is not going to focus on the statistics of why you should or should not commute, but is just me giving you a taste of what I have experienced as a college commuter.
Why I Chose to Be a Commuter
When applying to and visiting colleges, I was not even thinking about commuting. Like many of my friends (and yours), the only place I imagined myself living was on campus where the action is, where friends are, where freedom is. I was told by teachers, family, and others that this was the best option when going to college if you wanted to have the entire college “EXPERIENCE.” I hate to say it, but I was blinded into thinking that living on campus was the only option that was acceptable; that was “cool.”
After talking to my parents, and looking at the Tuition/ Room & Board bill, my excitement about living on campus decreased. I realized living on campus wasn’t my style (now I sound like a hipster right?). Seriously though, I’m a family centered girl,- a home body,- an Accounting major who understands the importance of spending or saving money.
When I decided not to live on campus I knew it was the best decision for me. My parents of course did not mind me continuing to live in my room (keep in mind that some colleges do not allow you to commute unless you meet certain requirements such as living with your parents). Two years later, here I am still a happy commuter :).
The Best Parts about Commuting!
For me, I would say one of the best parts about commuting is the separation of school and home. Starting my freshman year, my everyday goal was to get all my work completed while on campus so that when I got home I could do whatever I wanted. This is obviously a time management skill that all college students need to practice, but it worked (and still works) for me.
I love commuting for other reasons too such as still getting all the benefits of being a college student. Where I attend (Southern Wesleyan University in the upstate of South Carolina), I still have access to the campus nurse, the food, the activities, and the same classes everyone else does. The only difference between a commuter and resident student should be where they sleep at night; home or on campus. This of course is not true for many commuters who do not get engaged or involved in their school. It is the individuals responsibility (whether living on or off campus) to get involved and enjoy all that their school has to offer!
One way I got involved at my school was by joining the school choir (which also gave me a scholarship), staying on campus more (outside of class), and getting a job on campus. All of these groups led to opening many doors that I am happy to say are going to lead to greater things for me such as internships, job interviews, and a better application of what I am learning for my career.
If you are set on getting the full college “experience,” but you plan on commuting, you must STAY ON CAMPUS. This means if you do not have a class until 11am, you need to be on campus about an hour before. Not only will this give you more time to socialize and make connections, but it also a better way to prepare for your class (park sooner, print something, or have a friend proof read your paper, etc.).
Annoying Aspects of Commuting…
Obviously the biggest difference between residents and commuters is where the student lives. If you are a commuter, that automatically means you live off campus which means you have to DRIVE to get to school everyday. This is not a huge issue, but sometimes it is really annoying trying to find a place to park. Commuters always have specific locations they are allowed to park and we normally are the ones fighting to get the best spots everyday. Once you get into a routine though, you will start to notice when other commuters begin to arrive and park, and you can adjust your own schedule as needed to get the best spot.
Something else that can be annoying is when a college tries to make the commuters at the school feel “included.” Commuting creates its own category , so when others try to push commuters to feel included with everything the residents do on campus, it does not always work out as smoothly as you’d hope. From my experience it is best to put yourself out there and naturally create those connections and friendships through your classes or campus job.
One way my school (Southern Wesleyan University) creates strong bonds between commuters and residents is by opening everything up to both groups – together- at the same time. For example, the new Residence Hall on campus has a common space that will be open to any student who wants to use it (separate locks are included on the halls for those who live there). This is a nice way to connect, and is one of the reasons I am personally so involved on my campus (and one reason why I have so many friends at college).
I hope you enjoyed this post and have gotten a better idea of what it is like to commute! Remember as you are heading off to college, it is time to start making decisions for yourself, but those decisions need to be best for YOU, not for the person you are trying to be, or for your friends. Happy commuting!